Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Shame Never Won Anyone Over~ March 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:00 am
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Many years ago when I first decided I was going to start attending church with my young son, my first few encounters were rather unpleasant. I can remember being a nervous wreck walking through the ominous doors wondering if my son and I would be met with stares or welcoming arms. I was rather naïve at 22 years of age and believed what I’d always heard: church is for all people, a place of refuge for the broken. It didn’t occur to me that not all churches felt this way. Time after time, I left feeling worse than I did going on. I was met with disapproving eyes when ladies would ask where my husband was as I hung my head, suddenly ashamed that I was a single mother. I would try smaller churches only to feel that I had invaded someone’s family gathering rather than a church service. So then I tried larger churches only to feel like the shy girl who never got asked to dance. For the longest time I didn’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling that I had heard about church. Instead I felt alone, embarrassed, awkward and completely unwelcome.

Thankfully I found a church that was the polar opposite of every previous experience. Complete strangers welcomed me with warm smiles and open arms. My son was ushered into a class with kids his age and a teacher who respected his reluctance to join in for the first few weeks. Not once did someone ask me where my husband was. I was accepted for who I was with no hesitation, no third degree, no shaming glances….no judgment.

Some people are so quick to throw stones and cast judgment that they are driving people away from the church. How is it that one would think their church attendance affords them the right to scrutinize people’s lives? It’s a very poor representation of Christ, which is what we, the body, are supposed to be.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt7:1-5 The Message)

Some would say never judge another without knowing the whole story. I would say, don’t judge them even when you do have the facts! “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12 ESV) Thankfully, “judge” is not in our job description. We have sinned just as much as the next guy and our only job as a followers of Christ is to love others like Jesus. He cared for the sick, gave to the poor, provided for a widow and spoke with gentleness to a prostitute. As long as you or I busy ourselves with judging others, we will never be effective in bringing lost souls to Christ. If you are using the Word of God to humiliate or degrade another human being, you’re doing it wrong.mercy over judgment

 

 

~Momma’s Gonna Need a Minute~ October 24, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 10:49 am
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“Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to be left the heck alone?! Like no talky, no touchy, no looky, ‘get the heck out of my personal space’ kind of days?! That’s how I feel today!”

This would be the text message I sent my husband yesterday.  I wasn’t mad at anyone. No one had really done anything to upset me or make me feel ill, but I’m pretty sure it was within the spectrum of possibilities for me to physically assault someone. Grumpy doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. throat punchI’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have days where I feel downright hateful to the point that I’m concerned for the safety of those who get too close. Days like that I think I need to be forced to wear a warning sign around my neck, “Danger!!  Contents may explode upon contact!!”

Anyone else ever suffer through days like that?

Take heart, I may have pinpointed the cause. Every day, all day, I have someone “all up on me,” as I like to put it. The littles tug at my clothes, using me as a human paper towel and the occasional snot rag. My boys find humor in poking and throwing stuff or hiding around corners to scare the beegeezus out of me. My man just needs a little affection at the end of the day but sometimes, THIS is not huggable!

Physical touch is a beautiful thing but if you never have a moment to yourself, you may start to feel a bit like a foreigner in your own land, so to speak. This tends to happen most often when our calendars are so full that there is no way to pencil in some “me, minus all of you” time. I’m here to help you out, friends. The next time someone asks you to do something you have zero desire to do, don’t ignore that tightening in your chest that accompanies the realization that you’re never going to have a moments rest. Smile & say “No, but thanks for thinking of me.”

Now, take a seat in your favorite chair and forget about the to-do list that is invisible to the rest of your fam. Enjoy the entire cup of coffee before it has the chance to get cold because whatever the world needs from you, can wait a dang minute.

If you feel guilty, let’s all just take a minute to remember that even Jesus had to get away from the crowds and sit in silence in order to be refreshed to fulfill his life’s purpose.

 

~Freedom of Speech, Part 2~ December 20, 2013

I have gotten quite a bit of feedback from my previous post and rather than edit it or add to the comment feed, I decided to post part 2 in order to clarify some of what I feel may have been misunderstood@ https://peacefulpromises.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/freedom-of-speech/.

First let me say that I welcome the criticism and debate because it means that people are thinking and that’s what I want to encourage…to think of one another’s perspective.  With that being said, my main purpose in my initial post was to pose the following question:

While A & E may have acted within their legal rights…does that make it right?

I am not defending Mr. Robertson, he speaks rather crudely at times & I think there are more delicate ways of making your point.  He was not speaking on behalf of all Christians, but for himself alone.  Not all believers would have said things in the same manner he chose.  However, I am defending Americans rights to speak freely outside of the workplace without fear of losing their jobs as a result.  I would have been equally upset if someone was fired for their nationality, whom they choose to love, where they choose to worship, what the choose to watch, read or listen to.  I personally want to do my best to reflect God’s love to all people.  That includes those whose opinions vary from my own and people who make statements that I would consider uncouth.

 

~Freedom of Speech??~

When the news first broke of Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty, I wasn’t going to jump on the proverbial soap box, but a little something kept nagging me so here goes.

constitutionThere are two very important inalienable rights that have been violated:

  1. Freedom of Speech
  2. Freedom of Religion

Let’s address the first, freedom of speech.  Is there really any freedom in speech when one is fired for stating his opinion in an interview in which his opinion was asked?  I could see if the man referenced his employer as if he were a spokesman for the company, but he did not.  While this is the most recent injustice regarding someone’s right to speak freely, it certainly isn’t the first nor will it be the last.  Mr. Robertson clearly has views and morals that differ from a large number of people, my recommendation would be that those people should not watch his show or read his articles.  He is going to offend you.  I would bet that there are some articles & shows out there that he finds offensive, ones that attack his family and their position on some very sensitive subjects.  Why is that considered acceptable any more that what he said or did?  If we start allowing people to be fired for their own personal beliefs, such as where they stand on gay marriage, what’s to stop companies from firing employees for other beliefs such as: unwed mothers, choice of religion, momma’s who breastfeed their 4 year old, what type of head covering you wear, or your political stance.  It sounds ridiculous, because it is but that’s the road we are on if this type of behavior continues.

Now, freedom of religion, because let’s be honest, folks, that’s what this is really about.  The man is a Christian and is under fire for standing up for what that religion believes.  Being a Christian is a choice, just as being Buddhist, Jewish or Atheist is a choice.  When you publicly declare your religious beliefs, you are making known what you personally have faith in, what standards you live by and what things you believe are wrong.  Because we live in a country that supports our rights to worship whom we choose, we are going to butt heads time to time.  We don’t have to believe what another believes, that’s the beauty of this freedom.  Odds are we won’t likely understand why someone chooses a different faith than us, and we don’t have to but we should show one another respect.  On that note, may I point out that respect is a two way street.  How can you expect someone to respect your decisions if you continually bash theirs when they don’t line up with yours?

Before anyone asks, yes I have read the article.  While he does reference homosexual behavior, it is not the only thing the man talks about as the media would have you believing.

Here are a couple of statements that have conveniently escaped the news reels:

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

Gee, I wonder why the sensationalistic journalists aren’t wildly circulating these quotes like they are the others?

I will say that he is blunt.  His speaks directly about all things, not just his faith.  He is a rough around the edges, country boy so why would anyone be shocked when he talks like one?

Again, I certainly believe this is about more than just this one interview.  Once you open the doors to punish someone based on their personal opinions, can you even imagine the consequences that would bear?  Let us all remember the country that we live in.  Our constitution affords us all certain rights and those rights are in serious jeopardy, folks.

1st Amendment: Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Petition

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

For those of you who would like to read the GQ article in it’s entirety, you can do so at http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson#ixzz2o16g92Vz

However, if foul language offends you,(from the author not Robertson), I would give this one a pass.

**After receiving much feedback, I posted a follow-up @ https://peacefulpromises.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/freedom-of-speech-part-2/***

 

~Quick Fix is not a Reality~ November 7, 2013

instant resultsI have seen an abundance of articles on super foods that reduce body fat, miracle creams that banish cellulite & one trick wonders that suddenly take your spare tire and transform it into rippling, washboard abs.  Are we really that gullible?

If we would be honest with ourselves about the amount of time it took for our bodies to get into the physical condition that it is currently in, then we would know with absolute certainty that it’s going to take time to undo the damage, so to speak.

And yet so many seem to have a similar philosophy when it comes to their Christian walk.  We spend years forming bad habits, nursing unhealthy relationships, accumulating debt and so on but expect it all to right itself when we get saved.  It’s like we’re waiting for God to snatch us up out of our old life and place us in a new one where all our baggage is checked at the door.

Just as no super food is going to miraculously cause 20 pounds to fall away without exercise, no cream is going to smooth your dimply thighs overnight & I have yet to find that ab machine that produces fitness magazine cover results without making serious diet changes.  The same is true for all the “yuck” from your old life when you make a commitment to live for Christ.  You have to put in the work!

I know this is short and simple today, but I have encountered quite a few disheartened saints lately that I feel need a reminder that life with Jesus doesn’t equal instantaneous change.  It’s a process that will have peaks and valleys.  If you find yourself in one of those valleys where the walls on either side of you seem so ridiculously steep & slick that you can’t possibly get a foothold to climb your way out, take heart in knowing that God is right there beside you, cheering you on.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

(Romans 12:12 NIV)

 

~Perfection~ October 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 7:43 am
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PerfectionistThis morning as I attempted to sneak past the girls room, I saw my sweet Bella kicking up a storm in her bed.  I ducked back around the corner and just watched her.  She sat up and fidgeted with her blankie, then she’d lay on her side and try to fix it.  Finally, she hopped up and started smoothing out her blankie as she walked around all 4 sides of her bed.

It was obvious that she was frustrated because she couldn’t get everything situated just right.  When she first sat up to adjust, she was still somewhat peaceful.  As she became more and more aware that it wasn’t perfect, she quickly became agitated and could no longer find rest.  One little wrinkle completely ruined her morning.

Sound familiar?

Maybe not to some of you, but to my fellow recovering perfectionists, this may hit close to home.

There are many areas in your life where you may be aiming for perfection.

The perfect spouse.

The perfect parent.

The perfect employee.

The perfect Christian.

If your goal is perfection, you are going to fail every single time.  When you fall short of the impossible standard you have set for yourself, not only will it destroy your day but it brings everyone else around you down too.  Because chances are, if you are a perfectionist, you’re pushing off your unattainable expectations onto those you love as well.

We were not meant to have it all together.  In 2nd Corinthians, Paul talks about the revelations he received from the Lord and his hesitation to share it because he didn’t want anyone to give him credit beyond what they could see in his life or hear in his message.

When you give off the air of perfection, people will credit you for the greatness in your life, not Jesus.  Admit your shortcomings, embrace them even, so that those around you can see the hand of God in your life that sustains you.  The Lord says “My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.”

Therefor, let us have the same attitude as Paul:

“Now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2nd Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT)

 

~Teach With Grace~ September 30, 2013

teaching-wordle“I hate teaching new people stuff.”

Seriously, that wasn’t very nice.  Quite honestly I was so caught off guard by their comment that I was speechless.

Now a couple weeks later I have mastered my witty comeback, “Well, where would you be had no one taken the time to teach you the skills that you now possess?”

Ok, so maybe not so witty, but true…right?

I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy in training that this was the “leader” he was placed under.  If he would make such a comment to me, someone simply passing by, can you imagine the attitude he put off on his pupil?

Then I thought about how “seasoned” Christians can sometimes by to the “newbies.”  Are we responding to their questions and uncertainties with an attitude of, “I hate teaching new people stuff” or are we being gracious and patient as someone once was with us?

You know, I think that so many young Christians quit because they’ve been made to feel that they had to have it all together the moment they received salvation.  Someone in a position of spiritual authority has made the life of faith seem like an instantaneous change rather than a continual growth process.  So when they slip, and we all know they will, rather than seek guidance & forgiveness, they just walk away feeling frustrated and defeated because they were unable to reach the impossible standards that were set before them.

I know that we can’t all be teachers, nor do I consider myself one, but in my opinion, once you claim to be a Christian, you have automatically become an example that people will look to for guidance.  I do see myself as a willing vessel who is happy to share what I learn from the Word as it not only helps others, it helps me as well.  It is not an annoyance to help a new Christian with their walk, it is a privilege to watch them learn and transform into a new creation.

As you encounter those who have just begun their journey, withhold the judgment and go heavy on the love.  Think of who you were when you first accepted Jesus as your Savior, if you were like me, you were absolutely clueless what to do after you prayed the sinners prayer!  Be gracious and gentle and help people.  Help them overcome the obstacles that trip them up as opposed to becoming agitated that they are still having the same problems.

Don’t be like the guy who hates teaching new people stuff, be like Jesus who lived for it.

“Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have

commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

 

~Goody-Goody Is A Bad Thing?~ September 25, 2013

hurt peopleRecently I was talking to a young lady who is oftentimes ridiculed for being a “goody goody” and it made me think of so many other young people who are made to feel ashamed for being good Christians.  What kind of a messed up world are we living in when those who live righteously are mocked?  When did it become acceptable to belittle someone based solely on the fact that they have chosen a life that lines up with the Word as opposed to submitting to the pressure that the world places on them to conform?

This is not exclusive to our children.  Many adults are faced with this same trouble.  Friends poke fun behind their backs because they don’t participate in the same “recreational” activities or refuse to follow the crowd.

Well, the good news is, those who are being mocked right now…you are in the same shoes that Jesus once walked.  So let people laugh and make fun.  Recall to mind the words of your childhood, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”  Don’t respond to their attacks in anger, but with gentleness and grace.  It has been my experience that people make fun of what they don’t understand.  So make it a point to show them the way to the same Jesus that you serve by not retaliating.  After all, if you seek vengeance, are you really any different than the rest of the world?

 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.   For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”

(1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV)

 

~I Will Not Be Moved~ September 4, 2013

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.”

(Isaiah 50:7 NLT)

We are living in a time where Christians cannot open their mouths without facing criticism.  In some cases, outspoken believers are dealing with malicious words and even violent threats.  Christian businesses are being boycotted because of their religious beliefs.  Our children are mocked for praying over their meal in the public school cafeteria.  We receive hate mail when we say or write something that lines up with the Word but flies in the face of what the world says.

My response…so. what.

The Bible is filled with passages that warn us of the persecution we will face as followers of Christ and yet it pales in comparison to what Jesus endured so that we may have this life that we are living.  Let the mockers say what they will, I know where my help comes from.  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth!  He has already given us the victory.  We need not lose heart over a battle that is raging around us because it has already been won.

“He who gives me justice is near.  Who will dare to bring charges against me now?  Where are my accusers?  Let them appear!  See, the Sovereign Lord is on MY side!  Who will declare me guilty?”

(Isaiah 50: 8 NLT)

We who are brothers and sisters in Christ need to stand up for our religious rights.  All people are entitled to their beliefs.  ALL people.  That includes us.  I will not allow the government, media or any other organization cause me to cower from standing up for what I believe, which is simply put…the Bible.  I will spread the Word of God in a real, tangible way with loving words, thoughtful actions and a generous spirit.  And in so doing, show all the naysayers that we aren’t just a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.

Hold fast, saints.  Our faith is what keeps us strong when our faith is questioned.

I gotta get me one of these!

I gotta get me one of these!

“So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.”

 

~Walking Testimony~ August 15, 2013

“The Lord said,”I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you.”

(Exodus 34:10)

God has promised to do such marvelous works in our lives that everyone we come in contact with should be able to see His hand upon us.  Sometimes I feel like this isn’t the case.  Even when God is moving on our behalf and we are blessed beyond measure, strangers and even those we know, don’t necessarily “see” God in our situation.  I happen to think it’s because we don’t always give Him the glory.  We forget to sing His praises when He answers our prayers.  We don’t share our testimony when He’s right on time with the provision that we need.  When He heals our bodies, restores relationships or renews our minds, we neglect to give Him the credit.  If we aren’t acknowledging His power and presence among us, then why would anyone around us, especially those who have yet to accept Him as their savior?

As Christians, we need to be sharing what God has done for us with anyone who will listen.  We need to give Him credit for all the good that comes our way because it all comes from Him.  We would have nothing if not for the grace of God who pours out blessings from Heaven for His children.  Remember that when you have some success, big or small, that if not for God, you would not be who you are where you are today.

Be certain today that those around you see how awesome are the works of the Lord by making it a point to turn the focus to Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

(James 1:17 NIV)